SV and GS Ry

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CEO Arnie Steiner
City, Country Staten Island
State/Prov NY
Scale
N  
Name of Layout SV and GS Ry

The Susquehanna Valley and Gulf Summit Railway was begun about two years ago. While the SVGS is not my dream layout, I wanted to create something with a variety of visual settings that would allow for creativity and realistic visual detail. Hence, I’ve created a rather fanciful and fictional layout that incorporates structural and street lighting that automatically come on when the room lighting is turned off, traffic lights that automatically change in the town of Summit, and automatic sound effects (i.e., diesel horn when a train passes over a section of track, running water of the Susquehanna River, birds chirping over the daytime landscape, crickets chirping over the night time landscape, a flickering, raging fire in a burning building with fire engine sirens in the distance, a grade crossing bell and the clickety-clack of wheels, and an automatic station stop in Susquehanna with a customized automatic boarding announcement—“The Susquehanna Valley and Gulf Summit Express now boarding. All Aboard!” For the transitional lighting from day to night, I used an optical sensing power pack designed for use on garden pathway lights.
It was decided to stick with conventional DC operation so I could run my stock of locos without incurring the added expense of converting them to DCC or buying a whole new roster of motive power and a DCC operating system. The power packs and control panel are each mounted on roller slide shelves I designed and which retract under the layout benchwork.

The track plan is a modification of one that carries the same name and is published in Atlas’, “Nine N Scale Layouts”. The modifications generally involved flipping the track plan vertically to place the side I wanted to operate from away from a wall, converting the upper figure 8 to an over-and-under design rather than a crossing, adding short sidings not on the original plan and modifying the transitions taking you from the Valley to the Summit and vice versa. In contrast to using sectional track, Atlas flex track is used throughout except for the turnouts and a few sections of rerailer track. The track plan accommodates up to four trains running simultaneously. There are two main lines on the lower Susquehanna Valley level and two main lines, essentially for commuter service, on the upper Gulf Summit region.

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Layout Size 8' x 5'
Feet of track 100'+  feet
Era & Place circa 1950s and later
Control type DC: 2 MRC Tech IV 280 (4 trains)
Prototype Freelance: New York & Pennsylvania
Motive Power - Steam 24
Motive Power - Diesel 120
Trolleys, RailCars, Other RDC
Rolling Stock 170
Buildings & Structures owned 39
Employees & Local figures 230
Trestles & Tunnels 10
Vehicles & Heavy Equipment owned 80
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The locale is a composite of locations some of which do exist but not as juxtaposed or depicted on the layout:

On the lower level, Valley region, to the north is Susquehanna, a quaint town, with the Susquehanna Station noted above. In the town you’ll find the Susquehanna Fire Dept., Jim’s Repair Shop with the local gents playing checkers nearby, a small apartment building, the local church and the Susquehanna Cemetery (with a funeral in progress). The western edge of the layout has the county road with the northern end leading into and passed Susquehanna and the southern end leading into and passed the Susquehanna River area (and the burning building). The southern side (the operating side of the layout) depicts the Susquehanna River running along side my fictional Bridge Valley Park (over the park is a 4 foot trestle/bridge up to the summit). Along the river is a fly fisherman trying to negotiate the rapid waters. Also along the river are three water falls: Culvert Falls, Bear Falls and Summit Falls. Access through the park towards the river’s edge takes you to Starrucca Station at the foot of the Starrucca Viaduct (a real structure in Pennsylvania) that I have crossing the river and adjoining the sections of the Summit region above. The eastern side of the layout is populated by hilly, rocky cliff terrain that is the base of part of the summit region called Hobnob Hill.

On the upper level, Summit region, is the town of Summit. It is accessed by road from Susquehanna or by train from transition trackage in the town of Susquehanna or along the river to the south via the Bridge Valley Park trestle. The town, which is about center on the layout, is largely perimetered by a palisade of cliffs that drop down to the valley below. The serene hills provide a peaceful refuge for wildlife. You can spot deer and bears here and there. Summit town incorporates a commercial area including my “Arnie’s Model Railroading” factory/warehouse, the Summit Commuter Railway station, and a quiet, suburban residential area on a hill. To the east, the road out of Summit town leads to an exclusive residential area high up on Hobnob Hill. Here are my old Victorian mansion and the home of Summit town’s mayor, the honorable Luke Rutive. At the east end there is also a spur to Baldwin Station.

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For the purposes of photography, I used portable photo backdrops. The backdrops are four sections that can interface to create one long scene if desired. These are used only temporarily when I want to shoot some photos that incorporate the ends of the layout. Having permanent backdrops is not reasonable on an island type of layout as there would be no way to reach over the backdrops to work on items on the layout. Additionally, all photos are digital and taken with a 4.1 mega pixel Sony DSC-S85 Cybershot set at macro, with aperture priority and maximum resolution. Lighting is overhead fluorescent. For the purposes of photo enhancement, the sky on certain photos was extended and ‘painted’ in to cover the entire sky if the backdrop did not completely cover the scene. Some scenes depicting steam locos have the smoke ‘painted’ in for a more realistic effect as well.

It has been a great deal of fun building and operating the SV&GS, though it has not been without its frustrations. And I still have scenicking work I want to do on it: add more trees and ground cover, figures, etc. I look forward in the future to having more space so I can build a layout that is not island type and where I can use more state of the art DCC equipment.

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